“Blessed are they that mourn”

I close my eyes and I can picture my twin girls a few years from now. They are on a playground. Ankles deep in the sandbox, sitting across from one another. It’s a warm summer day. A slight breeze dances in between the locks of curls softly falling from their precious heads. I hear them giggling. Such joy in their voices. I watch them with the deepest contentment I’ve ever know.

I open my eyes as a single tear streams down my cheek. The content feeling flees me. This vision will only remain in my dreams.

On Tuesday, March 29th I was told that they couldn’t find a heartbeat on twin 1. I was a week shy of being six months pregnant.

There are lots of things you plan during your pregnancy. What date to have the baby shower. Where to place the crib. The babies name.

You don’t plan how to live through grief.

I don’t think anything in this life can prepare us for the loss of a loved one. Like love, it’s impact is most genuinely felt by experiencing it. The massive black hole that is grief will suck you in and rip you bare until the most raw version of yourself is unmasked. C.S. Lewis, while keeping a journal during the loss of his wife reflects:

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Everyone will go through hard times. That is guaranteed. I’m human so I can’t live above this reality. What once was a mystery – something that only happens to other women, has become my life. What I have learned over the past several weeks is that when your moment comes you have to decide how to survive.

It felt like a daunting task even to breathe after hearing this sad news but through this trial I have had the joy of experiencing true gratitude and appreciation for all I have. I know this gratitude only comes through pain and I pray this perspective never escapes me.

I know what it is to not sweat the small stuff. To look at your husband, your family and friends and know God is so good to have surrounded you with such genuine, loving people. In them you see the sum of what life is really about.

I know what it is to feel the peace of God. To not be able to stand and know the only place you can lean is on Him. To be surrounded with so much prayer and encouragement that as a direct result your faith in Jesus soars to new heights.

I know what it is to have a dream shattered and be able to sit, broken and lost with your spouse and slowly pick up the pieces. We have lived our wedding vows [for better or worse] in these hours and I can confidently say when our life gets worse we cling to each other until it gets better. I married up in so many thankful ways!

I’m now 30 weeks pregnant and my swollen belly is continuously being jabbed by my growing daughter. I’ve never felt a better feeling. This is part of her story. She is proof that even though life doesn’t work the way you planned it – good can be found in even the darkest places.

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The More the Merrier

Things that come in pairs….

Twinkies.

Animals on the ark.

Shoes.

Dice.

My babies.

How bout that we are expecting twin girls!

This past fall we shared with our families that we were starting IVF  since the traditional way of getting pregnant was proving ineffective. So when the pregnancy announcement was delivered at Thanksgiving everyone was excited but definitely not shocked as they were hopeful that would be the outcome.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving was our second ultrasound. At 5 weeks pregnant the babies are so tiny that all the doctor was finding on the monitor was one baby. My HCG levels indicated a singleton pregnancy so we gladly told the fam we were expecting [one] baby.

The week after Thanksgiving and the big reveal, we went back to the doctor. You practically live at the doctors office while going through IVF. At this point in the process, visiting the office was as routine as driving a car so we headed back to the private room to get ready to see our baby.

I laid back on the table. Matthew sat at my left in his usual spot. The nurse behind the doctor. Pretty routine.

The doctor began. “There’s your baby and, OH! There’s baby number two!”

Matthew immediately shot up in his chair and exclaimed, “but we’re only having one!”

The doctor calmly replied back, “you’re looking at the same screen I am.”

And sure enough on the screen you could clearly see two teeny tiny babies each in their own sac.

I have said my whole life I wanted twins. Anyone who has know me for more than a few years can attest to this. I know this sounds strange but when we knew we were having one something in my gut told me their was more. Call it Mother’s intuition, ridiculous faith in the impossible or sheer craziness I just knew their was more.

God knew the desire of my heart and being the generous God he is, there really was MORE.

So we sat on this secret for another month so we could make Christmas that much more memorable.

We had so much fun getting ready for this big announcement. We searched the internet for ideas and finally landed on a gift packed full of goodies / secret hints to tip our families off that twins would be coming to a crib near them this coming July.

Each bag had the movie Twins, Doublemint gum, Twinnings Tea, and of course Twinkies.

Here’s Matt’s parents reaction.

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Here’s my Mom and my Grandma in the background.

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The shock value was not lost on them!

 

Things You’ll Never Hear Me Say: Donald Trump is the Man!

So one of my 2016 resolutions goals is to read more. Readers are leaders folks.

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Today during my glance through the news I found this gem of a headline on Quartz.

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Hitler, Stalin, Trump. Wow! You’ve really made a reputation for yourself Mr. Trump. My little Trumpkin – affectionately named as he always looks orange, is going to be pouting over this headline.
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The man has little to no poker face and so if he gets wind of this article it’s likely Megyn Kelly will take the blame.

 

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I don’t consider myself especially political. I like to know what’s going on out there but to think one man or women is going to turn this country around and solve all our problems is quite delusional. Part of the reason I’m on hiatus from Facebook is to avoid the political rants that I’m assuming are filling everyone’s feed. It’s enough to make a person come unglued, turn orange with range and act a bit like my friend Trumpkin.

Love him or hate him he’s here. God help us he’s everywhere! He isn’t going away so the question is how can we stay tuned to what’s going on without throwing our remotes at the TV every time he opens that little beak.

Try my tactic when facing an annoying or uncomfortable situation – find the humor.

Let me help you….

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Definitely the corn!

I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for but I will tell you this – you will never hear me say Donald Trump.

Happy election season! May it be swift and Trump free.

 

 

Maybe Baby to Oh Yeah Baby!

They say good things come to those who wait.

I waited for 18 months to hear two life changing words….

You’re pregnant!

This past November we successfully completed the egg transfer. Nine long days had passed and I was back in the Docs office for my labs. After my blood work was concluded I drove home to wait some more. My husband and I anxiously hovered by the phone. A lot of waiting happened.

We hoped this call would confirm we were at the end of our infertility journey. We longed to cross the finish line and move over to the land of parenthood. When the nurse finally called and positively confirmed our deepest desire I can only explain those split seconds like diving deep in water. After along while of holding your breathe you break through the surface for your first gulp of air. Your body heavy, going through the motions. The expectation of breaking through the barrier of water to meet the surface is all you can focus on. The wait. Then comes the sweet relief and the joy that life feels right again.

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We are now 15 weeks pregnant. To say that the first trimester was easy would be a stretch.

I think the first trimester always poses it’s challenges. Morning sickness, frequent urination, moodiness, food aversions to name a few. The biggest challenge I faced was the uncertainty of the distant second trimester.

I’m sure this is true for many women. The facts shows that the risk of miscarriage significantly decreases once you hit 13 weeks in your pregnancy. For women who have gone through IVF getting that pregnancy YES feels like you just won the biggest battle of your life. All to soon you realize the pregnancy battle has been won but the mental war continues. You find yourself asking [will it last?] Will my body be strong enough to carry this precious life full term?

Each twinge in my belly, each ache or pain, every time I would go to the bathroom – I had to push the fear back. I constantly had to pray for peace and speak life over my pregnancy.

Then I realized something – this is going to be the rest of my life as a parent.

Fast forward – what does this sound the baby is making mean? Will they make friends at school? Do my kids know how much I love them? Will they be safe driving on their own?

The worrying could literally end you up in the loony bin.

My Mom used to call me almost every night while I was away at college. It was the briefest of calls. She would ring me as she climbed into bed and make sure I was home safe. Once that was confirmed she would tell me she loved me and the call would be complete. It was the NASCAR, the Jimmy Johns of phone calls. Super fast. Sometimes less that a minute or two. I started to realize she had to make this quick call to rest easy at night. She’s a Mom and she still worries about me.

I am reminded that life is always uncertain but I serve a God that I can trust. Trusting God’s plan doesn’t always come easy but it’s either that or worry myself into the loony bin. This gift of life growing inside me is from him and which ever road we go down I know he’s there with me.

What will come will come and I will meet it head on when it does. I’m so thrilled to become a Mom this July and I’m determined to not let the uncertainty steal a minute of my pregnancy bliss.

Hooray we’re pregnant!

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Onto A New Chapter. I’m Leaving Facebook.

I wake up and roll over. First action to start the day, Facebook. A few minutes later my blurry vision is clear and I see I have a problem.

Why is this the first thing I do in the morning? Instead of snoozing my alarm I’m laying in bed snoozing the day with my news feed. I’ve been reading posts for close to seven minutes. While I so enjoy laying in my cozy bed well after the alarms gone off this just feels very unproductive.

I read an article about seven things highly successful people do in the morning and Facebook wasn’t on the list. If this list composed of 50 things highly successful people do in the morning I’m almost certain, it still wouldn’t make the cut.
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For the past few years I can truly say that I have thought about leaving Facebook almost daily. I question why I’m still one of Facebook’s billion users for many reasons. From the non-stop photos of your baby all the way to the other end of the spectrum, non-stop political rants I find myself irritated while closing down the app. Give it another few hours and sure as the sun will rise, I will be back to check out what’s new on my feed.

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There’s a narcotic like addiction about this site. I know I’m not the only one out there. During dinner last night as a friend talked about how she was thinking about getting on Facebook we literally listed several reasons as to why this a bad idea. Multiple people, all users of the site trying to save our friend from the black hole that is Facebook. Life is perfectly good without it.

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So for 2016 I decided to ditch the book. There are little things in my life that have made me feel so free as taking a hiatus from Facebook. I liked seeing the engagement and pregnancy announcements but I’m slightly happier not knowing the inner thoughts of so many.

I didn’t realize what a time – sucker this app truly was. To my benefit I’m now reading actual books instead of your opinions. I pay attention on conference calls instead of filling the lulls with Facebook posts. When the hubs and I are together I’m listening to him instead of being drawn away by an alert from FB.

While the app is good in a lot of ways at this point in my life it’s good for me to be away.

 

Trending: Furrrr, It’s Cold Outside

Christmas was a balmy 60 this year. I know many here in Michigan were missing the snow. I was not among them. I was loving the fact that I could ditch my coat and sport my new fur vest as we galavanted all over the state for Christmas parties.

I should add it’s a fake fur vest right off the rack from Target. I don’t do real fur. I prefer real fur remain on the backs of animals as God intended it to be.

I can remember being pretty young, I’ll say around eight. We were visiting my grandma and I can remember her telling my Mom what an awesome deal she’d gotten on a real mink coat. This was around the same time Ghostbusters II had come out and all I could picture was the lady below.

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I’m not a [PETA] kinda girl, unless your talking Hunger Games Peeta. You won’t catch me throwing paint at people for wearing real fur but I totally support the ethical treatment of animals. I want to ride the fence between eating animals to nourish myself and making a hard stop at killing animals to drape them around my neck in the name of fashion.

During the 2015 Fashion Week, these furs were spotted strutting the runway. The good news is you don’t have spend thousands or kill innocent animals to have this look.

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I love fashion but for me personally, what’s on the runway isn’t always easy to transition to everyday fashion. My philosophy has always been to take a trend or two and make them work for me. I try to find something that will last for years. If it’s timeless piece it’s worth the investment. If it’s to trendy it’s a waste of money as you will inevitably look “so last year” within months.

I recently saw wide leg jeans at J. Crew. I can’t. Stone-wash jeans – no freaking way! Crop tops you can burn along with the pile of stone-wash jeans. You can probably add a few to the list and you get what I mean.

I love the vest trend and it’s been lingering for years without a dollar of my contribution. This summer it was denim vests. I didn’t jump on that bandwagon but I couldn’t resist the fur this year. Target had the right look for the right price. Always. So I finally took the plunge.

For around $40.00 bucks I joined the vest club.

I’m a big fan of how you can dress it down or up depending on the occasion.

Over a flannel and you’ve got the perfect errand running outfit. vest

Pieced together with a clean white button down and some boyfriend jeans and it’s date night worthy or perfect for meeting girl friends for dinner.

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Get fancy over a dress with tall boots and you’re ready for the New Years party.

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The winner, on a baby. Going to file this one away until I have my own little princess to dress up.

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Move Over Turducken, Piecaken Is Here!

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how truly blessed we are.

We live in America, home of the brave.

We live in America, home of the free.

We live in America, home of the obese plenty.

When my Mom hosts Thanksgiving, before we kick off the meal we spend some time going around the table to name something we are thankful for. For several minutes we listen to our family and friends list their blessings as the glorious smell of turkey whispers to us. For the several minutes following we sit in silence as forks and knives clank against plates and bowls and we chow down until our bellies reach capacity.

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Several years ago I heard about a not so traditional Thanksgiving meal. The Turducken; a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey.

This is what we do as humans.  We take something perfectly good and make it better.

Can we say iPhone 4, 5, 6, eventually 82.

Just this morning Matthew rushed into our living room to introduce me to the Turducken’s cousin, Piecaken.

“Google Piecaken. I can’t wait to see your face” he said.

Eyes wide and a smile growing –  I read that a Piecaken is a pie stuffed into a cake.

The turducken doesn’t interest me unless you have a slice of pizza crammed in there somewhere. The piecaken, however, is right up my alley.

After all that turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing how can you think about dessert?I’m sorry but to me dessert is the perfect finale to this pig-fest.

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Why make that awful decision between having pie or cake after dinner. Now all that dreadful deciding is removed from the equation.

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Now you can have your pie/cake and eat it too!

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Yes Lawd! Yes!

Redheaded Thoughts, Told From Nana’s Perspective

Matthew received this email from his Mom yesterday. I haven’t seen my husband cry in the whole 8 years we’ve been together. Yesterday he came close. Twice. It seems IVF makes everyone involved a little weepy.

I’m undone by her thoughtfulness. Overwhelmed with the kindness. I’m incredibly lucky to have married into this family.

This is the wholeness of love.

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The Redhead is taking the day off.

I am her mother-in-law and I have a few thoughts of my own. We will call them, “Nana’s Thoughts.”

Today my son took his wife for the egg retrieval portion of their IVF journey. My son sent me a text a couple of hours ago that 30 eggs have been retrieved.  I have been trying to wrap my head around this whole thing since that text.

I’ve been sitting in my computer room all this time with tears in my eyes. I must have gotten some of the hormones that I helped inject into my daughter-in-law. I am so emotional, I can’t get over it.

Happy does not begin to describe the way I feel.  My younger daughter keeps cautioning me that the journey is not over so I should keep myself under wraps. But let me tell you something I have learned about being a parent.

It never stops.

I love my children so much, that when they struggle I feel it.  When I say children, I mean both of them. When my children married, their spouses not only came into my family – they came into my heart.  They are mine to have and to love in all situations for all of my days.

So their journey is my journey. I may have to walk a step behind because they are adults and it is their journey, but that’s OK because they are smart and strong.

I am here as a back-up, whatever they need I still want to provide for them.

It never stops.

Today is a good day and I hope and pray that that this journey soon comes to a joyous conclusion.  Then there will be another little one to love and provide for.

It never stops.

And that’s the meaning of family and parenthood, the way God intended.

Love, Mom

Daylight Daylight wherefore art thou Daylight

Dear daylight, I miss you.

Remember when it was daylight until 9:00PM?

Those were the days.

Now as I flip on Wheel of Fortune and glance outside I’m curious. How long has it been dark outside? The shades are open and I can view the darkness that fills the streets outside. The only light that’s visible is fluorescent. It gleams brightly off of an office building adjacent from my home.

As bright as it shines, it even looks a little sad all alone there in the alley. Left with it’s thoughts of the coming season. It’s preparing to work hard to bring us light in those dark, frigid days to come.

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Daylight savings day is tomorrow. Some of you will rejoice for that extra hour of sleep. Good for you, [glass is half full] thinking optimist. I can’t even. My glass is half empty.

Loosing an extra hour of daylight is like watching someone grab the last piece of cake that you’d been eyeing. You’re a logical human being. You don’t cause a scene. For you know you will have cake again but for a moment you are just the slightest bit sad. This is the equivalent to me on D.S.D.

As I set my clock back I’m reminded that the days are getting shorter and growing colder. This is a double whammy for me. I know in no time at all it will be March and we’ll be springing forward but for the slightest moment I mourn the loss of my friend daylight.

With less daylight we get less sunlight and on to my next point.

Vitamin D is pretty much my favorite vitamin. If you’re taking a vitamin D supplement it’s pretty much a happy pill. Not really, but it helps. Research suggests that it has benefits of fighting depression and common colds. Both are in ample supply for Michigan winters. Michigan is dreary.com for the next few months.

My non-medical, read it on the internet conclusion – is if the sun doles out a lot of vitamin D and I live in a place with minimal sunshine during the winter I’m bound to feel a little sad and sick at some point.

The equation is as such: 

Spring + Summer * Sunshine = Happiness

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S.A.D. is a legit thing. This type of depression literally spells SAD. That’s sad in itself? When the sun goes away the winter blues are here to stay.

Now time for honest [ridicoulus] thoughts that go through my head

How will we go on?

  1. It’s just less daylight. It’s not like Zombie’s or Vampires attack because there’s more darkness.
  2. Throw some fun plans on the calendar so these dreadful winter months fly by while your laughing with friends and family.
  3. Celebration galore is right around the corner.  My goodness, Halloween candy was on shelves 8 weeks ago and now Christmas stuff is everywhere. Dress up for Halloween. Be thankful and eat lots of pumpkin pie and turkey. Then exchange presents for Jesus’s birthday! Good days are ahead.

How will I fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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Food will get you through. But….

I have to watch my weight this time of year as I’m just not as active. Then again nature intended it this way. Just ask a bear. I read that fish, mushrooms and orange juice all have good amounts of vitamin D. I couldn’t find pizza on the list for a D boost but regardless, pizza makes me happy and will substitute for sunlight in the interim.

I checked the Farmer’s Almanac, it predicted that it’s going to be a mild winter for snow here in the mitten. Even though I don’t LOVE snow it does brighten up the dreariness. I might be the only non-farmer that checks the Farmers Almanac for the weather ahead. Something about knowing what I’m about to get into, helps me make peace with it all. Then again, having lived in Michigan my whole life – I should know better. The weather is as predictable as my mood. #InfertilityMedProblems

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On the bright side….

Positive thoughts. I’m already counting down to the Winter Solstice. Once we hit December 21st we start gaining something like, 1.5 minutes of daylight back. Victory!

Also I have a Southwest flight voucher burning a hole in my pocket. Florida anyone? Currently the Bonventre’s are on a budget but with all these Marriott points and the SW voucher – it’s gunna happen. I’ll get my vitamin D tank filled up and in no time it’ll be Spring!

Don’t forget to set those clocks back!

Maybe Baby Part VI

Tonight will be shot #8 but who’s counting. Still a few more to go. The fun never ends.

We’ve all seen the crying lady below. She’s the backdrop for 90% of the meme’s floating around out there. If you haven’t, you have not been online for roughly three years. Welcome back!

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I look like this at least once, possibly twice, no more than five times a day.

This crying fit brought to you by, Menopur and Ganirelix. I’m not crazy – I’m just on fertility meds. Bare with me.

Last night I went over my in-laws for dinner. Matthew has to travel for work this week so I’m flying solo for my injections. My sweet Mom-in-law is a retired nurse and after Tuesdays shot mishap, (for a minute – I thought I mixed the contents of the shot incorrectly and freaked out) I thought better for her to assist.

You must have two people for this mixing process. Four eyeballs are better than two.

You have 3 to 4 individualized substances that have to be combined through a series of syringes to end up in one final syringe. The focus level that it requires is something like that of threading a needle. Except, if I mess this process up, a whole lot more than sewing isn’t getting done. I’ve literally flushed my dream of a baby, thousands of dollars and priceless time down the toilet.

On Tuesday night, Matthew was there with me in spirit on Facetime. He witnessed the entire mixing process from start to finish but I panicked anyway. So last night I packed up the dogs and my meds and headed up 94 to their house.

On my way to dinner I swung by Kroger to pick up a pie. As I stood there deciding between blueberry or peach or at this point in my life – both, my phone rang.

It was the pharmacy calling.

My medicine was supposed to arrive last week. The goal, is to have your injection meds before the doctor gives the start date for your treatment. That’s ideal 100% of the time. Ideal but not guaranteed. After about 10 phone calls of trying to get this sorted out, I’d had enough.

Thankfully, the office has a surplus of the drugs on hand so I have them on loan until mine show up.

The Pharmacist on the phone had no idea what she was getting herself into when she dialed me.

“No we don’t have that form Mrs. Bonventre. Until we receive notification from the insurance company we cannot send you the medicine.”

Cue tears in five, four, three, two, one…
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I was about to lose it. I had just gotten off the phone with someone ten minutes prior who told me everything was submitted.

I mentally coached myself. “ChaVonne, do not cry on the phone to this poor stranger.”

My lip was in a full on quiver mode so it was much to late.

So there I stood in Kroger holding a pie in one hand and my phone in the other pleading for her to help me.

People shopped around me. They checked the expiration date on lettuce as I tried not to have an all out melt down just a few feet away in the bakery. Truth be told I wasn’t embarrassed. It is what it is and to be quite honest the tears may have gotten the job done.

Within two hours I got a call confirming my meds would arrive on Friday! Praise Jesus.

In other good news – during my ultrasound this morning I got confirmation that the meds are working! I’ve got eggs and they’re growing.

As the eggs increase my comfort level decreases.

The nurse explained last week that there would be bloating. She said that essentially my ovaries would be growing from the size of a walnut to an orange. Ummm, come again????

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As someone who exaggerates, I figured maybe she was too.

NO!

She was not!

I pictured my lower belly with two horn like bulges due to my orange size ovaries. No bulges yet but it’s strange none the less.

It’s uncomfortable but so is being pregnant which I will hopefully be soon. It’s just a part of the process. Leggings are my favorite pants anyway so it’s a win.

Elastic is a girls best friend!

I know this feeling means good things so I’m trying my best not to complain but instead to make jokes with a friend going through the exact same process at the exact same time.

How lucky are we? I mean, this process is not lucky but we are lucky to have each other.

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